In this chapter we are introduced to the Bride of the Lamb.
The Bride of the Lamb
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His judgements. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of His servants. And again they shouted: “Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever.” The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who was seated at the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!” Then a voice came from the throne, saying: “Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, both small and great!” Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reign. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) Then the angel said to me, “Write” “Blessed are those who are invited to he wedding supper of the Lamb!” And he added, “These are the true words of God.” At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do it! I am a fellow-servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
The Praise of God is Proclaimed
Various groups are mentioned who are all praising God:
1. We read of “a great multitude.” This reminds us of Revelation 7:9 and is a reference to the tribulation believers who have been martyred.
2. The “the twenty-four elders” are mentioned. They are mentioned in Revelation 4. They are mentioned separately from the tribulation believers because they very likely represent the Church of Jesus Christ which was born at the Day of Pentecost and will be taken up into heaven before the tribulation.
3. The four living creatures are mentioned in Revelation 4:6-9 as well and seem to be in charge of worship in heaven.
4. All His servants both great and small very likely include those we have already mentioned as well as the Old Testament believers.
The reason for their praise is the fact that God has judged Mystery Babylon. She has now fallen. Another reason for their praise is the fact that God’s earthly rule is coming. The Lord’s sovereign rule over all things has continued from the beginning and has never been set aside. But the earthly establishment of God’s rule will happen at the return of Christ to this world.
The Preparation of the Bride is Announced
All the believers in heaven are urged to rejoice over the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride. We are going to compare the events around a Jewish wedding to help us understand more clearly events around the wedding of Christ and His Bride.
In Bible times there are three phases to a Jewish wedding:
1. One deals with the marriage contract. When the contract was finished the couple were legally married, or we would say, they were engaged to each other for they did not yet live together. This corresponds to our salvation.
2. The second phase deals with a formal occasion when the bridegroom takes the bride to his home as we can read in Matthew 25:1-13. This corresponds to the rapture of the church.
3. The final phase is the actual marriage supper when the bridegroom comes to the bride’s home. See the wedding feast in John 2:1-10. This corresponds to the marriage supper of the Lamb and His Bride.
The Bride was given fine linen, bright and clean to wear, which speaks of the righteous acts of the believers. As for identifying “the Bride”, she cannot be Israel because Israel is already the wife of the Lord. She is rebuked for her unfaithfulness but the Old Testament never suggests that she is not the wife of the Lord. See Isaiah 54:1-15. The Bride is the Church of Jesus Christ. In Ephesians 5:25-32 we have a description of Christ’s love for His Church, His Bride. The Church will appear in all her glory when the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb. The Church is the Bride. The guests are very likely Old Testament believers such as John the Baptist in John 3:29.
The Purpose of the Believer is Revealed
John is so overwhelmed by what he has just seen he falls at the feet of the angel to worship. But the angel reminds him that it is only God who is to be worshipped for He alone is worthy to be worshipped. We learn that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. He is the central feature of it, and any teaching of prophecy that takes our minds and hearts away from Him misses the point.
The Second Coming of Christ
We will now focus on the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
The Names Identify Him Clearly
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His Name is the Word of God.
Though many names are used in Scriptures to describe the person and work of Jesus Christ, this one passage describing His return to earth focuses on four characteristics of His name.
1. His Name is reliable. The terms “Faithful and True” clearly identify Him for Jesus Christ is called the “Faithful Witness” in Revelation 1:5 and the “Faithful and True Witness” in Revelation 3:14.
a. He makes good on His promises according to Deuteronomy 7:9 and Hebrews 10:23. Because Jesus is faithful, all His promises will come true, including His promise to come again according to John 14:3.
b. He helps us in our temptation according to I Corinthians 10:13.
c. He protects us from satan according to II Thessalonians 3:3.
d. He will never forsake us according to Hebrews 13:5.
e. He will forgive us our sins according to I John 1:9.
f. He does not lie according to John 7:18.
g. His ways and judgements are true and just according to Revelation 15:3 and Revelation 19:2.
2. His Name is known only by Him. When we read that “He had a Name written that no one knew except Himself”, we realise there is much about our Lord we simply cannot recognise or know. We are told His Name is “Wonderful” according to Isaiah 9:6, meaning it is too difficult for us to understand. There is so much about our Lord we do not understand according to Psalm 139:1-6. But He knows, His self-realisation is powerfully revealed when Revelation 19:12 says “no one knew except Himself.”
3. His Name is revealed as the Word of God. This Name clearly identifies Him as Jesus Christ according to John 1:1 and John 1:14.
4. His Name proves that He is Royal. Revelation 19:16 reveals His sovereignty over all people, all rulers and all nations.
His Nature Describes Him Powerfully
In addition to His name, this passage describes His nature:
1. He is just in all that He does according to Revelation 19:11. The nations of the world have already been described as a withered and over-ripe harvest according to Revelation 14:14-20 that needs to be reaped by the justice and vengeance of Almighty God.
2. He sees and knows everything. His eyes are “like blazing fire” make it clear that he will judge the sins of the world.
3. He has authority. The crowns on his head are that of royalty and majesty. He wears “many crowns” as a sign that He has authority over all according to Ephesians 1:21. His authority exceeds that of all human and angelic authority.
4. He has wrath. His robe is stained with the blood of those He has destroyed according to Isaiah 63:1-6. This is the same bloodbath described in Revelation 14:20. The righteous anger of the Lord will be poured out against this world.
The Nations will Obey Him Completely
Out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has this Name written: King of kings and Lord of lords.
Three actions of the Lord Jesus are described here:
1. He will strike the nations with a sharp sword. The Word of God is described as a two-edged sword. Jesus will execute judgements by speaking the Word of God as described for us in Psalm 2:9 and Isaiah 11:4.
2. He will use a rod of iron to rule the nations. It is a rod that will bring order and justice to the world. Jesus Christ and His believers will rule the nations of the world when His Kingdom is set up on earth.
3. He will trample the nations as described for us in Isaiah 63:1-6; Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:14-20. It is the day of the Lord, a day when God’s wrath is poured out upon an unbelieving world.
The Terrible Destruction that Will Come
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in mid-air, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.” Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider and the horse and His army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulphur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
Armageddon has arrived! God’s day of vengeance and wrath will explode upon the world scene in a spectacular display of His power and glory. The whole world will know that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.
The Coming of all Birds to the Supper of the Great God
In the battle of Gog and Magog described for us in Ezekiel 38 and 39 we have a scene where the birds of heaven are invited to devour the flesh of those conquered. At the end of the tribulation this event will occur again as all the kings of the earth become the supper upon which the birds of heaven feast. We notice three things here:
1. The angel is standing in the sun. This speaks of the glory of God and the fulfilment of His purposes on earth.
2. The angel cries in a loud voice. The sound of a loud voice has occurred on six previous occasions in Revelation, namely Revelation 6:10; Revelation 7:2; Revelation 7:10, Revelation 10:3; Revelation 14:15; Revelation 18:2. It always introduces an important message or event related to the vengeance and victory of God.
3. The birds are gathered together for a specific purpose. In Matthew 24:27-28 Jesus prophecises about an event when there will be a “carcass” where “the vultures” will gather. This prophecy will be fulfilled at this time for “the carcass” depicts the nations of the world who have gathered against the Lord and His people. “The vultures” represent all the birds of heaven who will literally feed on the flesh of those armies destroyed by the coming of Jesus Christ.
The Final Conflict of the Tribulation
The beast and the kings have come together to make war. The world leader and his associate, the false prophet, have deceived the nations of the world. They have now assembled the kings of the earth for the battle on the great day of God Almighty according to Revelation 16:14. They have decided that they go to war against the Lord of lords and King of kings. This is, no doubt, because they are now so deceived by the world leader and his false prophet that they believe they can actually win this battle against the Lord Jesus. But He will show them that He is no match for them according to II Thessalonians 2:8.
The Capture of the Beast and the False Prophet
Both the beast and his prophet are captured. The beast is captured because he has received worship in place of Almighty God. The false prophet is captured because he has led the people of the world astray by persuading them to worship the beast.
These two received special attention in the description of the final judgement due to their significant roles of deception and their wickedness toward the tribulation believers who have suffered greatly at their hands. God’s vengeance will be poured out on them.
The Consequences the Nations will Face
The armies will be destroyed with the Word of God that comes out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus Christ.